I was in Oxford last week visiting my father. We had arranged to meet in the centre of town for a coffee. I was running a little early, and he was running a little late, so I had some time to look in the Age UK charity shop before we met.
I gravitated towards the book section and noticed they had a Bible on display. Upon closer inspection I discovered it was a Gideon Bible. I have a love for Gideon Bibles as during my first spell in psychiatric hospital, when in a time of crisis I asked a member of staff for a Bible, it was a Gideon Bible that was given to me.
If you don’t know the Gideons, they are a worldwide evangelical Christian organisation who distribute Bibles in hotels, hospitals, prisons, schools, and various other places. What I like about their Bibles is that they have a kind of index in the front, where you can easily find passages related to a particular subject or emotion. For instance, if you’re ‘Needing Peace’, ‘Thankful’, ‘Depressed’, or ‘In Temptation’, you are directed to a series of relevant scriptures.
While I understand that for more seasoned Bible readers this isn’t the best approach to Bible study (it’s better to read each book as a whole), for someone who is new to the Bible, as I was when I was in hospital that time, this is incredibly helpful. I found so much comfort in the passages I read and it was through my study of that Gideon Bible, while in hospital in 2007, that I first came to understand and believe the Gospel.
Several years ago while I was serving on a street outreach team I contacted the Gideons as I wanted to buy some Bibles that we could give to people we met on the street. They said they never sell Bibles to members of the public, and keep rigidly to their mission of distributing Bibles free of charge in places such as those mentioned above.
I was so delighted to find a Gideon Bible in the charity shop last week that I didn’t consider there was anything untoward going on, and I quickly purchased it (it cost about £1.50). It was only a little later when I was sitting with my father having coffee that I looked inside and read the words, ‘This Book is not to be sold’!
It’s a lovely Bible (King James Version) and I would like to bless someone with it, perhaps someone who is new in the faith or going through a tough time but has never read the Bible. Can you think of anyone who would like it? If so, drop me an email via the contact page and I’ll gladly send it to you, or directly to them (the photo that accompanies this post is of the actual Bible).
Do you have any experience of Gideon Bibles? Feel free to share in the comments below.